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Govt urges people to stay at home ‘at this critical moment’ of fighting COVID-19

Health Bureau’s (SSM) Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou said the authorities noticed that more residents were out and about and some restaurants were full of patrons, which showed that residents have started to let their guard down.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:44 am

Addressing the daily press conference about Macau’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the Health Bureau’s (SSM) Control of Communicable Diseases and Surveillance of Diseases Department Coordinator Leong Iek Hou said the authorities noticed Wednesday that more residents were out and about and some restaurants were full of patrons, which showed that residents have started to let their guard down, urging them to persevere in keeping up all the necessary preventive measures, namely by staying at home and refraining from going out and attending gatherings.

Leong noted that gatherings increase the risk of spreading of the virus, which would undermine the effectiveness of the government’s raft of measures against the viral threat.

Leong made the remarks on Wednesday evening at the bureau next to the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre.

Macau has not confirmed a new COVID-19 case for eight consecutive days, since last Tuesday.

“We found today [Wednesday] that there were noticeably more people in the streets [than previously]. Some restaurants and eateries were full of guests, and some of them even shared the tables,” Leong said.

This showed that residents have started to let their guard down, Leong said.

Leong said that now was a critical moment for the local government’s epidemic prevention work. The local government was urging residents to stay at home and refrain from going out unless necessary, he said.

“Every gathering increases the risk [of spreading the virus], which will significantly decrease the effectiveness of the government’s string of measures against the virus threat,” Leong said.

Leong urged residents to persevere in keeping up the preventive measures, namely by staying at home and refraining from attending gatherings.

Another patient discharged

During the press conference, Chang Tam Fei, coordinator of the public hospital’s emergency department, announced the discharge of the second COVID-19 patient – Macau’s fifth confirmed case – on Wednesday, a 21-year-old woman from Wuhan.

Macau’s first COVID-19 patient, a 52-year-old woman from Wuhan, was discharged from hospital last Thursday. Macau has so far confirmed 10 COVID-19 cases, including the two patients who were discharged from hospital last Thursday and on Wednesday respectively, comprising seven tourists from Wuhan and three Macau residents.

The city’s fifth COVID-19 case – the patient who was discharged from hospital on Wednesday – was confirmed on January 26.

Chang said that after a 16-day treatment in the public hospital’s isolation ward, the patient’s condition had become “very” stable, her pulmonary imaging showed that her lungs are in “normal condition”, and swab samples taken from her throat tested negative for COVID-19 twice. Chang said that the patient met the standards set by the National Health Commission (NHC) for a patient to be discharged from hospital, and was discharged earlier on Wednesday. The woman returned to the mainland under police escort on Wednesday afternoon.

4 conditions to be discharged

The local government mentioned the four conditions set by the National Health Commission for a COVID-19 patient to be released from isolation and discharged from hospital, namely 1) the patient has had normal body temperature for at least three consecutive days, 2) the patient’s respiratory symptoms have significantly improved, 3) the patient’s pulmonary imaging shows significant resolution of inflammation, and 4) swab samples taken from the throat test negative for the virus twice, and the second test must be carried out at least one day after the first test has been carried out.

Chang said that the treatment bill of the patient discharged on Wednesday amounts to 25,000 patacas. 

According to Chang, the patient told the authorities that she did not have enough cash or enough available credit on her credit card to pay the bill and applied to defer paying it. The patient promised to pay the bill within 30 days, Chang said.

1.14 million facemasks sold in 1 day

Meanwhile, Leong said that by the time of the press conference, which started at 5 p.m., 1.14 million facemasks were sold on the first day of the third round of the government’s mask purchase scheme, 19,000 of which were child facemasks.

The third round of the government’s facemask purchase scheme includes facemasks tailor-made for children for the first time.

Under the scheme, the first and second rounds of which were launched on January 23 and on February 2 respectively, each local resident and non-resident worker is entitled to buy 10 facemasks at the fixed price of eight patacas every 10 days at designated outlets upon presentation of their original Macau ID cards or work permits (informally known as “blue cards”).

In the current third round which includes facemasks for children for the first time, parents or legal guardians can, however, only buy five child facemasks with their children’s ID cards, with the remaining five for adult facemasks, or alternatively they can choose to use the whole quota of 10 for adult facemasks. The facemasks for children in this round are only for kids aged between three and eight.

There are 87 outlets, comprising designated pharmacies, the bureau’s health centres and health stations, and so-called service points run by three community associations – the Macau Federation of Trade Unions (Gung Luen), Macau General Union of Neighbourhood Associations (Kai Fong) and Macau Women’s General Association (Fu Luen).

Child facemasks are only sold at the bureau’s health centres and health stations. The price of child facemasks is the same as for adult facemasks.

The government has said that five million facemasks and 5.6 million were sold during the first and second rounds of its mask purchase scheme respectively.

The government said on Tuesday that it has managed to purchase one million facemasks for children.

Child facemasks ‘definitely enough’

During the press conference, Leong reassured parents that all of them will definitely be able to buy child facemasks during the current round which lasts 10 days, urging them not to rush to buy any. Leong noted that the government has managed to purchase one million facemasks for children. 

Quoting official statistics, Leong said that Macau has some 50,000 children aged between three and eight, meaning that up to 250,000 facemasks will be needed. Consequently, the number of child facemasks on sale during the current round is definitely sufficient, Leong said.

Leong also underlined that the government is facing enormous difficulty in purchasing facemasks as the supply of facemasks in the world is extremely insufficient. Leong said that the local government is putting its utmost effort into buying facemasks from around the world. Leong said that as the government has bought facemasks from various places and manufacturers around the world, the facemasks that the local government has bought have different designs and colours and materials, calling for residents to show understanding.

Leong underlined that all the facemasks that the local government has bought have been examined by her bureau’s staff, adding that only the facemasks meeting the bureau’s standards will be sold at the designated outlets. Leong said that therefore her bureau will not replace the facemasks that people have bought, unless the facemasks have “obvious” quality issues.

Leong also said that a community association reported to the government on Wednesday that its staff had found that a person bought 10 masks for 35 patacas from someone in Iao Hon district, adding that the government strongly condemns such behaviour and urges people not to engage in this kind of activity.

Leong said that after receiving the report from the association, her bureau reported the case to the Public Security Police (PSP). She said that PSP officers have not yet found the person who bought the facemasks.

Meanwhile, Leong also noted that residents not wearing a facemask who enter the public hospital and the government’s health centres have no longer been given a facemask free of charge since Tuesday, and those without a facemask who need to seek treatment at public medical facilities have to buy one there at a price of 10 patacas per facemask. 

Leong said that a person not wearing a facemask, whose gender was not revealed, was refused entry into the public hospital on Wednesday morning. 

The person began to shout and argue after staff had told him or her to buy one. Leong said that the government also condemns this kind of behaviour as it puts extra burden on medical staff.

(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © Cheong Kam Ka

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:44 am

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